26 Oct Highlights from the Philippine Homeschool Conference 2017
There’s only one homeschool event I look forward to every year and that is the Philippine Homeschool Conference. It’s been two weeks since the PHC 2017 and I’m still looking at my notes every now and then. c”,) So happy that my ever supportive hubby was able to join me this time. He was sick last year so I had to go alone. Omar also joined me two years ago back when we were still newbies and about to take the homeschool plunge. Can’t believe it’s my third time to attend the PHC! c”,)
Before I continue, I’d like to give a special shoutout to my mom and dad for watching over our little boy and puppy while we were away. c”,) Anyway, we arrived at Treston International College a few minutes before the first keynote started but we had some slight problems during registration. Kudos to the Help Desk team for quickly attending to us! c”,) The glitches were settled eventually. We missed maybe the first five minutes of Senator Kiko Pangilinan’s speech.
For those of you who do not know, Senator Pangilinan, brother of homeschool experts and pioneers Donna Pangilinan-Simpao and Felichi Pangilinan-Buizon, filed a resolution declaring March 3 as National Homeschool Day! c”,) It was great to have him there to welcome all of us and encourage us to continue homeschooling.
Efren Geronimo Penaflorida
The next keynote speaker was Efren Geronimo Peñaflorida, 2009 CNN Hero of the Year. At the age of 16, he and his friends founded the “Dynamic Teen Company” and later on started the “Kariton Classroom” (i.e. pushcart classroom). They fondly call themselves “pushers” or “kariton pushers” and they call each other “kapushers”. Haha! To think that they are doing this to veer street kids away from the lure of the other kind of pushers.
Efren shared four valuable insights—Believe that you can, Excel in every work, Stand firm to what is true and noble, and Think of ways to improve. The great thing about these is that Peñaflorida walks his talk. He started believing that he can make a difference; he then excelled in teaching kids through his “kariton classroom”, he values integrity, and he is still coming up with ways to improve and expand their influence.
When he talked about “Excel in every work”, I remembered the poem that Timmy memorized “Work” by M.A. Stodart. It says:
Work while you work; play while you play.
This is the way to be happy each day.
All that you do, do with your might.
Things done by halves are never done right.
Same is true for our homeschooling, we should do it with all our might (with God’s help, of course). We shouldn’t do it halfheartedly. If we want our children to aim for excellence, they should also see excellence in us. c”,)
When Efren talked about ways to improve, he shared how the “kariton classroom” model has been replicated not only by the DepEd but also by other countries such as Jakarta, Kenya, and Sri Lanka. Not only that, the pushcart classroom now has a Kariton Building and they are currently working towards the launch of the Kariton Senior High School program! Talk about inspiring! c”,)
One of the highlights of his talk was the story of Kesz Valdez. Efren first met him when he was four years old, begging for food and digging trash. His dream was to become a bigtime scavenger. Kesz then became involved with Dynamic Team’s efforts and at the age of six, he became a hygiene demonstrator for the “kariton classroom”, showing kids how to brush their teeth, comb their hair, and take a bath. c”,)
Many years later, Kesz became the first Southeast Asian to receive the International Children’s Peace Prize in 2012. He is a classic example of turning trials into triumphs. Listening to Efren and Kesz’s stories made me realize that we should take advantage of using homeschooling to teach our kids how to make an impact in the lives of other people. At the end of the day, it’s not about how smooth they transition from homeschool to regular school but how much impact they can make within their spheres of influence and the society.
The next keynote speaker was Emmy award-winning broadcaster Marissa Leinart. She gave up her TV broadcasting career to homeschool her kids. I love her! She’s very honest and candid about her homeschool journey. c”,) One of the first things she shared is the total number of hours kids spend in school—2,379 hours. That’s 3 months and 9 days they are away from you. It made me realize what a privilege it is to homeschool our son especially during his formative years.
Marissa gave many helpful and practical tips. Below you can see the outline of her talk. Character involved teaching our kids integrity, manners, loyalty, kindness, and fear of the Lord. The key is to be consistent. She also said something very powerful, “homeschool will change you.” And it’s true, homeschooling is changing me as much as it changes my son. I am learning to depend on the Lord all the more, extend more patience, swallow my pride, and a whole lot more.
When it comes to Academics, she said that it will follow if we’re able to build their character first. This is true because, in homeschooling, obedience and respect are non-negotiable. We cannot teach well if our kids don’t obey and respect us. When it comes to Relationship, Marissa said, it is the reward of homeschooling. We build our relationship with our children as we spend more time teaching them and strengthening our bond with them.
She also advised that we need to envision what we want our children to become and work on raising them to be like that. Do we want children of integrity? Then we should model and teach honesty at all times. Education at the core of homeschooling should be fun. The freedom and flexibility of homeschooling allow it to be fun. I think I should make a big sign and put this up in our homeschool area so that I don’t get distracted by portfolio and stuff like that. Haha! c”,) Never lose the fun!
Marissa also gave an encouraging advice for those of us who are being criticized for homeschooling. She said that we will always be judged for homeschooling because it’s different. She advised that we need to avoid defending homeschooling. Talk about it lightly and throw a question back to the one asking you. It’s true what she said that nobody loves our children more than us (other than God, of course). And so the things that we’re doing for them come from a wellspring of love. c”,)
EXPO AND BREAK TIME
Had the chance to meet a lot of fellow homeschooling moms during the break! Some of them were just chatmates prior to the conference. c”,) I also saw our ever kind and gracious homeschool provider (Peniel) director, Ms. Au! Special shoutout to my husband, who was my faithful photographer and booth-signing partner. Haha! Say hello to these amazing homeschooling moms!
The expo was amazing! Love the booths we had this year. However, I would’ve preferred that they’d be in an air-conditioned area like last year. It was really hot and there were a lot of people. But hey, the good deals you could get are worth it! Last year, I got the 4D science and animal cards. This year, I got the globe I really wanted (and needed) for P2,600+ only! High-quality, updated, accurate globes cost around 4K and above. So I was really happy that I saw this globe that was around 3K plus and less 20%. Awesome deal, right?! The one I got lights up, too! And you will see more details when it does! c”,)
Right after the break, we had another keynote speaker, Sheryl See. She is the Executive Vice President of Treston International College. She talked about the 21st Century Learner. It was really timely because we are raising a centennial (Generation Z: tech-savvy, multi-gadget users). Sheryl mentioned three crucial areas in raising a centennial:
- Keeping them engaged
- Meeting their demand for connectivity
- Expectations of higher quality learning experiences and outcomes
She also added that with the access and availability of information, what parents need to do more is mentoring. This includes training, providing direction, coaching, and guidance. Sheryl mentioned six things 21st-century learners need to learn:
- Digital Literacy
- Content Criticism
- Critical Thinking
- Problem Solving
She advocates blended learning, collaborative learning, and authentic learning to address these needs. Finally, Sheryl said that as parent-teachers we should lecture less and consult more. I think the main challenge for us today is how to maximize technology as an ally and partner in education.
This year, every participant gets to choose two breakout sessions they’d like to attend. I chose practical ones—one on time management and another one on homeschool for free. c”,)
Sigrid Perez is a modern-day super mom. She has eight children and homeschools five of them! Aside from that, she and her husband are also involved in various non-profit organizations such as Play Pilipinas and the Art of Living Girls’ Club. So it is very fitting that she talks about “The Juggling Act: Home Management for Teacher Moms.” Sigrid started off with this inspiring quote that truly puts things in perspective.
She generously shared her home management roadmap:
- Create your family vision statement.
- Know and understand the demands homeschooling has in your life (i.e. roles, schedule, commitments)
- Know what is negotiable and non-negotiable (i.e. prayer time, homeschool time, family time, chores, work)
- Prune away unnecessary concerns. (i.e. focus on what you have to do, focus on what you have to do, just do what you can today!)
- Make a schedule and checklist (i.e. use technology; make a daily schedule, menu plan, master grocery list)
Sigrid also shared two practical organizing tips—a place for everything and everything in place. She said that we should teach our kids to leave the room better than when you entered it. I need to practice this for myself so I can teach my son better. I’m not an organized person (not one bit) so I really needed to hear these things. Waaah! Lord, I need help in this area!
Bottom line, being organized and intentional in what we do every day will lessen our stress and ultimately, make us less grumpy! Haha! One of my key takeaways from Sigrid is this, “your kids need your serenity, energy, and joyfulness!” When we’re organized and there’s a sense of predictability in what we’re doing each day, we can enjoy our tasks more may it be homeschooling or chores! c”,)
She encouraged us to find humor in the midst of chaos and challenges. Sometimes we just need to ride it until the tide settles. And more importantly, it’s okay to begin again. If you need to take a few steps back then do so. If you need to stop and start over then do it. Know what you can be flexible with. Confess your weaknesses to your children. It will help us begin again.
The next breakout session we attended was Marissa Leinart’s “Homeschool for Free” because contrary to what most people think—that homeschool is cheap—it can also be expensive if you don’t know how to budget. There are lots of amazing resources out there and if you’re not careful, you might end up with curricula that you might not even use!
Marissa gave us a phone number which has a list of free resources you can use for your homeschool! Just send homeschool to 4807570900. You will then receive a text message with a link to the 101 Free Online Homeschooling Resources. c”,) She then shared 10 Resources for Homeschool for Free.
The first thing she discussed is investing in your child’s passion (don’t mind the #8 slide in the photo haha! we had some tech glitches so Marissa had to start already; I’m so glad that she discussed this first!). So how do you do it? Just ask your child what he or she wants to learn and create a curriculum around it! We don’t have to go very far. Our children are our curriculum. All we need to do is ask them!
Marissa illustrated this by asking three kids from the audience to come up front. She asked each of them what they want to learn and asked the audience how will we teach the child based on their interest! It’s amazing how much input we got from the parents there! Marissa said something very important, do not be a slave to your curriculum. That’s true. It should help us and not limit us.
I’ll outline the rest in bulleted form for easy reading. Just had to discuss the first one more thoroughly because I feel it’s also the most important! I sort of changed the order and consolidated certain points. c”,)
- Google everything before buying anything. (slow clap)
- Have a Gmail account and use Google for Education! (use other Gmail tools, too, like the Drive, Docs, etc.)
- Internet (YouTube, if I may add!)
- Field trips (yes, yes, yes!)
- Khan Academy (really good)
- Open Education Source
- DepEd (yes, our very own DepEd! They have the complete curriculum per grade level!)
- Common Sense Media
She also shared more nuggets of wisdom along the way:
- To a child, love is spelled TIME. – Sometimes we feel guilty that we get so busy even at home. She encouraged us that the fact they’re with us means a lot because they’re observing us.
- For those raising energetic sons, we should accept that boys can’t sit still. – God made them that way. They need to expend their energy. If they seem restless during homeschool time, let them play first and give them a break. c”,)
- If there’s something that your child is asking you over and over again, just give in. – A good example of this is a pet! I couldn’t agree more! We just got our son a puppy and he loves taking care of him—feeding, brushing, wiping, and cleaning up his potty accidents. This gave him the opportunity to be more responsible. Say hello to Angus, our 3-month old furbaby! c”,)
I was so happy I was able to talk to Marissa after her talk (fangirling alert!). c”,) Just had to say thank you for all the insights and inspiration she has given us. We then returned to the main hall for the closing remarks. Was able to catch up with my mentor Donna of Homescool.ph and meet the sister of one my momma friends! Plus, surprise surprise! I won in the raffle—a trip to Gopala Learning Haven! Yay! Praise God!
I want to give a special shoutout to the team behind the Philippine Homeschool Conference! Thank you so much for all your time and effort in putting together the biggest gathering of homeschoolers in our country. You, ladies, are such beautiful blessings from the Lord! We couldn’t thank you enough for your dedication and commitment to the homeschooling community!
Thank you for patiently reading (and waiting for my yearly recap haha!). c”,) See you next year, everyone! Missed the previous conferences? You can check my other blogs below. c”,)
- Highlights from the Philippine Homeschool Conference 2016
- Highlights from the Philippine Homeschool Conference 2015